There’s a lot more to Illinois than the great city of Chicago. Along with this exciting urban hub there are many natural areas where locals and residents alike enjoy getting outside. With 141 parks it’s no wonder the DNR created the motto, “State Parks, Great Parks” in 2013. This phrase is the title of their initiative to continue improvements on local natural areas with upgraded campgrounds and additional staff to cater to the more than 44 million yearly visitors looking for hiking and camping in Illinois.
People from all over the state – and even outside the country – take the short 1.5-hour drive from Chicago to Starved Rock State Park, where they can hike 13 miles of trails offering elevation gains on wooded pathways along the Illinois River. The 18 canyons serve as great places to spot waterfalls after a rain and families love ending the day with s’mores around the bonfire at the nearby Starved Rock State Park campsites.
Those looking to learn about the state’s heritage while camping in Illinois may head farther south to Lincoln Trail Homestead State Park & Memorial. This 162-acre park is 12 miles southwest of Decatur near Harristown, IL, and features the land where Abraham Lincoln first resided in the state. If you visit be sure to check out the memorials commemorating this important president.
People who want to mountain bike in this Midwestern state will enjoy heading to Palos Park, a forest preserve known for its excellent biking, hiking and equestrian trails that cover over 50 miles of terrain. When it comes to camping in Illinois, this locale offers beautiful facilities at Camp Bullfrog Lake where you can put up a tent next to a lake and hike short or long loops that end up back at your campsite.
If you want to check out the beautiful Lake Michigan drive to Illinois Beach State Park to spend time in the water along the 6.5 miles of sandy shoreline. The park is 4,160 acres offering ample opportunities for hiking, watersports, picnicking, fishing and camping. With The Dyrt, you can be sure to find the best camping in Illinois during your stay in the Prairie State.
We booked a couple of days ahead of our stay, and ended up with one of the last 2 sites in the primitive tent area. The site was on the end of an inlet, and the water was full of algae– not a great view, but the lot was a decent size. Not as big as some state campgrounds that we’ve been to, but big enough for our single tent and it had a small fire ring with grate and a picnic table. (NOTE: There appears to be a shortage of picnic tables in this area, and we ended up snatching one from the neighboring site as the residents hadn’t arrived yet. It was an east/west facing lot, and had a couple of trees of the east side, so no afternoon shade. Tough luck on a weekend with temps hanging around 90 degrees! Luckily, I had taken a large tarp and managed to rig some shade with the help of the trees. The toilets in the primitive area are pit– there are 2 sets so no one has to walk far. The toilets closest to our lot were better than I had expected from a pit– no smell in the women’s, although I was told that the men’s was pretty foul. There were, as usual, plenty of flies and spiders, but the TP was always stocked. There were flush toilets and showers near the RV camp areas. I first, used the showers in the Plum Grove section– there were 3 showers with very old with rusty, crusty shower curtains. The way that they were laid out, the changing area for the first two showers were a walkway for the other showers. However, I later used the shower close to the Staghorn area, and it was a bit newer and nicer. No walkthrough problems, and there was a door between the changing area and the main section. Overall, the entire campground was nice and well kept. The general store was small, but carried quite a bit for its size. There was also another store at Pierce Lake where they rented kayaks and paddle boats, sold fishing gear, ice cream, etc. At this same location there’s a small concession area– the hot dogs were pretty good.“Quiet time” isn’t exactly enforced(unfortunately). We were lucky enough camp on a weekend when a group(maybe 10 tents) of wannabe musicians were camping. They played bongos and guitars and sang until 11:30 p.m. Add that to the families with kids and scooters that started tooling around the tents at 7:00 a.m.(yes, technically the end of quiet time, but really?), and it could have been quieter.
NOTE: I forgot to mention that the sites along the water's edge were covered in goose poo. We spent around 20 minutes clearing the site. Nature, whatcha gonna do?
Primitive tent camping area is very spacious but bathrooms were dirty and gross. The women’s bathroom near T3 didn’t have toilet paper the entire three days we stayed there. I drove to other restrooms while we stayed there. Shower house was nice, with one small shower stall and large ADA shower stall. Camp host was friendly and helpful. The campground is just a few minutes from Carlinville Walmart and restaurants.
This is a beautiful place with so much to see! Amazing rock formations, miles of hiking trials, springs to cool off, jumping cliffs. Great campsite, spacious, woody. Little over 20 campsites, get filled on the weekends. If you enjoy the untouched nature, this is definitely a place to visit. On the down side, you pay $10 per tent per night (if you have 2 tents on one site, have to pay $20 per night). bathrooms are not very clean. And the ticks were so bad!! Maybe it is just that time of the year (tick season). Otherwise absolutely beautiful nature!
Our daughter stays there in our camper to attend summer internship in Springfield. The camp hosts passively look out for her and have been willing to help if she should need it. Shower house is clean, camp ground is well run, they even escort you to your site so that your facing the right way and take a route that best suites your rig. Most are shaded and almost all are pull through. Full hook ups. Nice in ground pool and laundry facilities.
This place is unlike any other. Very clean, usually quiet, rangers drive through everyday making sure all is well with everyone. There is swimming, fires, biking, walking, pretty much everything you’d need when one thinks of camping. Very decently priced. There is something for everyone whether you have just a tent, or a pop up, or a full size RV! If you camp, this HAS to be a place you at least try. Amazing people.
Electric site 7/5-7/7. Campground gets quiet at night. So many campground hosts around I don’t think they would let it be loud past quiet hours. First night the concession closed early so weren’t able to get firewood and had to go to the closest gas station. We could not figure out the problem but I’ve never had such a hard time keeping a fire lit with the wood from the concessions and gas station. Did some fishing, just caught some bluegill. We walked around a lot and did some kayaking. Shower houses were pretty gross in tent loops. We still had a great weekend.
Starved Rock State Park is a nice place. The camp sites are nice as well as pretty spacious on the whole. Lots of green between nearly all sites. It has rained a lot lately and it can be a little muddy, not really the parks fault. There are ports-potties in the loop and really run down shower houses at the entrance of the loops. The little store is tiny with limited hours. Firewood is expensive, but I can not vouch for the quality. The loop roads are in disrepair with a lot of broken surface and potholes. Lots of shade in the back. May or may not come back.
I love to camp at this place because the park has nice sites to camp. I stayed at the site #90 it was a big space and had alot of trees around that made a perfect shade. In addition, the park has a lake and you can rent a boat and have fun. The only thing i did not like was the people in the front of my site had a a party an making alot of noise and not following the park quiet hours. Enjoy camping everyone !
Love this place, it’s quiet and peaceful. Not a lot to do but they are trying. Tent camping, RV and a few cabin rentals, boat docks too where you can bring your boat! There are some hiking trails and pavilions and a softball field. There’s a stage they sometimes have plays and bands. I would give it a 5 stars (it’s in my hometown) but they really need some kind of draw. One shower house and a small playground. It’s worth a stay if you are in the area. It’s clean and neat.
Stayed here in early June during a trip to Starved Rock, which is a quick 10-15 minute drive. Camp hosts are very nice and the the grounds well maintained. I stayed on site 5 which is a full hookup but best for a small camper. I have a 14 foot travel trailer and it just fit with my SUV in front. The spots are very tight and you have very little room between you and your neighbor. With all the rain this year, many sites flooded during a storm while we camped and they had to be moved to other areas that were not actual sites so it was a bit crazy…hosts did a great job taking care of everyone effected. Campground has a cute dog park and a beautiful stream that runs through it. I would stay here again!!
Just finished our second trip/vacation here. We stayed in the rental cabins, but are in the waiting list for a seasonal site. Right next to the lake. Plenty of room for everyone, from tents to the massive RVs. The pool very clean and never gets over crowded. Staff are knowledgeable and polite. Friendly/quiet dogs allowed. Wonderful pirate ship playground. Weekend activities for the kids. Electric golf carts allowed. Very inexpensive compared to campgrounds closer to me.
We’ve stayed at Rock Cut several times, always in the Stag Horn loop, and had great sites. This last time, the grass was so high, we couldn’t use our fire pit or picnic table. My husband came later and he brought our weed wacker so we could clear it out enough to set up our screened canopy. I like stag horn since they are level, close to the bathroom and camp store, as well as a mixture of wooded and not wooded sites. Some sites are a bit tight.
I booked a full hookup daily site but they accidentally put me on a seasonal site l. It was on the pond, very quiet and away from a lot of the activities…which was fine for me. The regular sites look nice as well. Lots to do…pool, mini-gold, volleyball, etc. Only a 30 minute drive to Davenport. The only down side of my site was a ton of goose poop…it was hard to walk the dogs with so much to tempt them.
We just got home from our first visit @ morrison rockwood park and it was fun. We had site 57 which is in a loop which goes around a playground. It was great for the kids who could go play and the sites in this loop provide plenty of space and privacy. We used only our camper for the amenities so i cant comment on the bathrooms or shower houses but they looked nice. Paved roads so was good for bike riding and plenty of access to the lake for fishing.
Beautiful spot for our single overnight. Staff were great; friendly and helpful. Park was well kept, with lots of green around RV and tent sites. Nice pool, dog park, store, and even a stream system that wanders through the park (no swimming in the stream). Also close to Starved Rock State Park for some neat scenery and hiking. The only downside side is that some of the RV sites are a little close together - didn’t impact our stay though. Two thumbs up! :)